Tuesday, December 4, 2007

More is More

They start early in Thailand. I was mystified why King's Cup races would start at 0900 until I received the plausible answer that, typically, the breeze dies by 1300. So it's real when they tell you to report to the beach, for a ride to the boat, at 0700. This year, of course, the breeze has not been dying at 1300, but what do I know? This is the 21st King's Cup regatta -- sailed on the Andaman Sea out of the island of Phuket -- and it's the first one I have not missed.

Think seven races over five days. They still do a genuine race week here, and the King's Cup is just one event on a long Asian circuit that can soak up months of your life, if you're that lucky.

Warm water, a warm breeze, and not many scars showing from the tsunami, at least not at Kata Beach. That's my report (preliminary).

Full Metal Jacket is up from New Zealand . . .

Photo by Guy Nowell

There were 103 entries for race one, but a fender bender today has reduced that number. And then there were the two boats that went awol the night before racing opened, blown off their moorings by a breeze that always seems stronger at night. The breeze has been coming off the land, and both boats were rescued 5-7 miles off the beach. There are way too many divisions to talk about, but if you want to know more you can visit the King's Cup, where you might note that my ride, Madame Butterfly, is off to a decent start.

Clicks at Last

Well short of that magic 50 knots, but I understand why he's celebrating: Paul Larsen's SailRocket thingamajig hit 42.4 at Walvis Bay, Namibia and reinvigorated what has been a long and difficult effort to prove the concept of this particular speed-record hopeful. It looked like this . . .

Larsen's thoughts, after yet another crash a few days earlier and with time running out: "Our backs were hard against the wall. That day marked our last chance to prove that our faith in the project was not misguided."

It also reinspired confidence: "Whilst not an officially timed run it marks a milestone. SAILROCKET was sailing in a very coarse and safe mode with twice the necessary rigging in the air and the big low-speed rudder still down. The rudder alone is good for another 5 knots once raised. The concept is just entering its element. We are not restrained by a power limit like all of our competitors. Our problems to date have been centred on controllability and this last run proved that we can post these runs without drama or issue. We have a lot of easy speed still to come through quick and basic refinement."

Meanwhile, as I recall, L'Hydroptere is in the shed for retooling, amidst expressions of confidence that, for the big French hydrofoiler, 2008 will be the year. We have a race.